Steve Smith injury brought back rough memories for coach Justin Langer

Rory Dollard 18/08/2019
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Australia coach Justin Langer admitted the ferocious blow to the neck which felled Steve Smith at Lord’s brought back “rough memories” for his side but lauded the batsman’s courage after he insisted on returning to the crease.

Day four of the second Ashes Test ended firmly in the balance, England 104 ahead with six second-innings wickets in hand heading into a finely-poised final day, but there was only one real talking point after an exhilarating afternoon duel between England’s debutant Jofra Archer and Smith.

Smith was on 80 when he turned his head on a 92.4mph bouncer from Archer and crumpled on impact after the ball struck. The delivery was the culmination of a fierce spell from Archer, who left Smith requiring concussion testing as well as X-rays to his left forearm following an early blow.

Moments earlier Archer had cranked the speed gun up to a remarkable 96.1mph and there was immediate, widespread concern as Smith briefly lay motionless.

It was only five years ago that Smith’s friend and team-mate Phil Hughes died after being hit on the neck by a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield game in Sydney, a harrowing incident for the whole of Australian cricket, not least current team members Nathan Lyon, Travis Head and David Warner, who played in the match.

Happily Smith was able to get up, retiring hurt but returning to action 40 minutes later before being dismissed for 92.

“You never like seeing your players get hit like that, no doubt, there’s obviously some pretty rough memories of a blow like that so…there was no fun in it,” said Langer, who also predicted that optional ‘stem guards’ on helmets might now become obligatory.

“Today was an ugly incident. I know (the extra protection) came in after the tragedy of Hughesy so I’m sure that will get talked about. At the moment, the players have a choice and I wouldn’t be surprised if they become mandatory in the future.

“Thankfully Steve has come through okay. He got another 92 today, what an innings, what a player and what great courage as well, that he came back out.”

There was widespread surprise that Smith opted to return to the middle when Peter Siddle was dismissed, but Cricket Australia allowed him to make the decision after he passed all on and off-field testing under the watch of team doctor Richard Saw.

Langer would have stepped in had he felt Smith was in danger of further serious injury but instead found himself marvelling at the player’s desperation to get back out in pursuit of a Lord’s hundred.

“These guys are like my sons, alright. You’re never going to put them in harm’s way. He was going ‘mate, I just want to get out there. I can’t get up on the honours board unless I’m out batting’.

“He was determined but he wouldn’t have gone out there unless we thought it was OK. I asked him privately, I asked him behind closed doors, I asked him in front of the group.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Ashes 2019: Steve Smith rattled by Jofra Archer bouncer amid Lord's boos

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Steve Smith.

Australia batsman Steve Smith was battered by a charged up England quick Jofra Archer on the fourth day of the Lord’s Ashes Test on Saturday, eventually falling short of a century after getting hit on the back of the neck.

Smith retired hurt during a fiery spell from Archer, who hit a top speed of 96mph. The Aussie batting mainstay was first struck on the forearm by an Archer bouncer in the 71st over when he was batting on 70. After getting assessed by the physio, Smith continued to bat with an arm guard, even though he was clearly in discomfort.

By that time, Smith had been rattled by Archer, who at one point bowled 16 deliveries in a row over the 90mph mark.

Then when on 80, Smith ducked into a 92.4mph bouncer by Archer that hit the batsman flush on the back of the neck. Smith’s helmet did not have the protective neck guard, which has been introduced in the game following the tragic death of Aussie batsman Phil Hughes who got struck by a bouncer at almost the same spot.

Smith went down immediately and remained on the ground for a long duration as the medical team assessed the batsman. He had to retire hurt with the score on 203-6. There was a mix of warm applause and boos as Smith walked off the ground.

Cricket Australia (CA) then followed concussion protocols to see if Smith was out of danger and whether the team needed a substitute. He was cleared to bat, with CA saying in a statement: “Team doctor Richard Saw made the precautionary decision to remove Steve from the field of play to have him further assessed under Cricket Australia’s head impact protocol. Steve then passed his assessments and will now be monitored on an ongoing basis.”

When next man Peter Siddle got out in the 86th over, Smith walked out to bat and was booed by the Lord’s crowd again, as has been the case throughout the tour with English fans targeting Smith for the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.

However, the Aussie batsman couldn’t last long as he missed a straight ball from Chir Woakes and shouldered arms to be out plumb lbw, which was upheld on review, for 92.

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Australia great Shane Warne lands 'The Hundred' coaching role in London

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Shane Warne will b the head coach of Lord's The Hundred team.

Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne will coach the Lord’s-based London team in next year’s ‘The Hundred’.

The 49-year-old, who took 708 Test wickets, has previous coaching experience with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.

Warne becomes the fourth Australian coach to be announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board for ‘The Hundred’, following the appointments of Andrew McDonald, Simon Katich and Darren Lehmann.

Warne said: “I’m very proud and very honoured to be asked to be the head coach of The Hundred team based at Lord’s.

“The opportunity to coach in a brand-new tournament and work with modern-day players is something that I will really enjoy and I am looking forward to the challenge.

“This tournament will unearth some heroes and hopefully some future World Cup stars for England and other countries.

“I love the concept of The Hundred and it has grabbed my attention in the same way the IPL did.

“We built a team from scratch with a diverse range of players from different backgrounds and ages and I can’t wait to build the same mix of players to entertain the fans who come down to Lord’s for The Hundred.”

Former Australia Women’s coach Lisa Keightley will coach the women’s Lord’s-based London team.

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